Thursday, February 4, 2010

Frank Fasi, 1920-2010

Waking up this morning to the news that Frank Fasi had died brought back a flood of memories. And no wonder: I can’t think of another person who had a greater impact on my life in Hawaii. In 1970, two years after he had been elected mayor, he appointed me to a position in the Honolulu city government. I served as a member of his cabinet for the next eight years.

But when I got off the boat here back in 1962, I had a small family to support, knew no one, and had no job. I had been given a couple of local contacts to help me get started, however, and Frank was one. I called him, introduced myself, invoked the name of our friend-in-common, and asked if he would give me a letter of recommendation to help in my job hunting.

With characteristic bluntness, he said, “I can’t do that, I don’t know you.” As I was thinking how to respond to that, he said, “So why don’t you and your wife and baby come up to the house and have dinner with us tomorrow night?”

We did and had a wonderful time. Frank was engaging and interesting and funny; Joyce, of course, was welcoming and sweet and stunningly beautiful.

Two mornings later, the phone in our little hotel room rang. It was Frank with the names of two local business people he had called and who had agreed to meet me … obviously because Frank had asked it of them. Almost every day after that, for probably the next two weeks, Frank would call with one or two more names.

You wonder why those of us who worked for him were loyal to the man? It’s because almost every one of us has a story like that to tell. Yes, he was a great mayor, probably the best Honolulu has ever had, but he was also a great friend. From Day One.

No comments: